Friday, January 30, 2009

mtvU announces semi-finalists for red carpet contest

It was the moment Rincey and I were waiting for - the phone call. We had lost a lot of sleep during week so the waiting might not be too bad in our state of mind. Saturday and Sunday came and no phone call. "OK... that's not bad. We still have Monday and Tuesday," we told each other.

It was Thursday morning, Rincey tweeted: "i've given up on mtvu and am moving on with my life. i can't live with all the suspense for this long."

She called me a few hours later, telling me to check the site. Our names were not included among the semi-finalists. Instead of being angry and screaming so that my neighbors could hear my ire, I decided to watch the 10 videos.

As a good journalist, I noted what I liked about each and decided to share my thoughts so that I could help others who might not want to watch all 10. Here is my Top 10-styled list, with number one being my favorite:

10. Diana Snyder, freshman - New York University
My main point of contention is the fact this candidate is a freshman. Good for her making it to the next round - the video is short and sweet. However, the video quality is a little lacking (OK graphics). Plus, I don't see Perez Hilton as a plus.

9 - Faheem Ahmed, senior - Rice University
The humor he places within the video escapes me. I'm surprised the Academy would allow mtvU to pick this (then again, MTV and Academy are polar opposites). There is a Britney Spears impersonation. A fake Tom Cruise jumps up and down on a bench. It's seems very banal to me.

8 - Nicole Lovince, senior - Bowling Green State University
I have to give her some credit because BGSU is near my hometown of Toledo, Ohio. However, the tributes end there. Her video comes off a little vain. Granted, most of the videos needed to include some self-love, but here it's a little overbearing. And the lighting is poor. Her video begins the celebrity name-dropping, which is peppered throughout a majority of the videos.

7 - Chantell Black, senior - Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
This video is full of energy and Chantell is very articulate (and the microphone volume is set to loud!). But I get lost when she mentions she was an intern at CNN in New York and was on the red carpet interviewing stars at the Tonys. She seems way too overqualified. What does she need this contest for? Her dream has already come true. She interview Ne-Yo and Chris Brown, "to name a few."

6 - Rachel Alig, senior - University of Cincinnati
Here, four reasons are given to pick Rachel as the correspondent. She has a contagious passion in her video. She even sparkles at times. I especially love when she interviews UC President Nancy L. Zimpher. That was an impressive get. Her hair was less impressive, though. It took away from her nice outfits and spunk. She would be higher up on my list if she would not have mentioned working for Nancy Grace - not a fan, to say the least.

5 - Nick Maslow, senior - University of Miami
Even if a little narcissistic and overly tanned, I have to give it to Nick for some of his interviews, especially the one with Academy Award®-winning actress Halle Berry. But still, what does he need from Oscar's red carpet that he hasn't already gotten?

4 - Dylan Steinberg, senior - Drexel University
Let me start off by saying I love his hair. Dylan seems like a Ryan Seacrest protégé, a friendly interviewer, but the problem is his seems slightly disinterested in his interviews, continuously looking back at the camera with a smug look on his face. Overall though, good video, it was well thought out.

3 - Justin Shackil, senior - Fordham University
Not a huge fan of the open, where Justin is standing in front of a green screen, talking with a weird voice and slightly bouncing. But the rest of the video is well done. The interviews are genuine and they're edited well to create a cohesive package. It especially love the snow at the end. We wanted it to snow, but it wouldn't the days we were filming.

2 - Megan Telles, sophomore - San Diego State University
I could watch this video multiple times without getting sick of it. Megan and her cameraman Andrew film with a great camera and have some great shots; without microphone issues, the video would have been near-perfect! I especially love the highway shot. Megan has a great personality and it shows through. I enjoyed when she said she would save the Academy and mtvU money so her and Andrew could take a road trip. (And that was an example of good hair.)

1 - David Distenfeld, junior- Duke University
And my number one choice is... David from Duke. Its opening - in which he poses the question "David Distenfel is two minutes away from winning a trip to the 2009 Academy Awards. How did he does it?" - almost wins my support outright. (The answer is C. "He was adopted by Angelina Jolie.") He goes on to talk about his addiction to award shows and movies and three things he loves about the Oscars. While cynical, his commentary is snarky and enjoyable. Plus, I'd love to see his interviews on the red carpet. He's got me intrigued.

Some of the semi-finalists litter their videos with names from celebrities. I understand interviews may help boost résumés, but I think this is the wrong approach for this contest. Maybe I was wrong to assume mtvU would want to help out hard-working journalists who have yet to get those big interviews. Granted, my opinion is a little irrelevant because mtvU did not pick my video, which is embedded below:

After posting this video, I noted in the "More Info" box that I recommended people vote for David Distenfeld. Here's part of the message he sent me, after seeing this:
This is David Distenfeld and I just saw the more info for your video. I really liked your entry... More important, thanks so much for recommending mine. Not exactly sure why you liked it so much, but, hey, who am I to complain.
So please vote for David here and if he makes it to the top three, I'll try to get an interview with him. Good luck, semi-finalists!

Update: David sent me this link to his Facebook group, created "to get out the vote (Obama-style)."

Have a great weekend everyone.

(Images of contestants courtesy

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar® nominations announced 31 days out

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis and Oscar-winning actor and Academy member Forest Whitaker announced the 81st Annual Academy Award® nominees this morning. (Full list here and video embedded at bottom of post.)

Nominations highlights:
  • Nom Count: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," 13; "Slumdog Millionaire," 10; "Dark Knight" and "Milk," 8; "Doubt" and "Frost/Nixon" and "The Reader" and "WALL-E," 5.
  • Best motion picture of the year: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), “Milk” (Focus Features), “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company) and “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight).
  • Music, original song: "Down to Earth" (from "WALL-E"), "Jai Ho" and "O Saya" (from "Slumdog Millionaire"). Notably absent include Golden Globe nominees from "Gran Torino" (featuring Clint Eastwood), "Bolt" (featuring Miley Cyrus), "Cadillac Records" (featuring Beyoncé Knowles) and "The Wrestler" (featuring Bruce Springsteen). Though, it must be noted, the Academy has very strict guidelines for this category.
  • Foreign Language: France's submission, "The Class," made it to the shortlist and now is one of five films nominated. Others include submissions from Germany ("The Baader Meinhof Complex"), Japan ("Departures"), Austria ("Revanche") and Israel ("Waltz with Bashir").

Also announced today was the ceremony poster, something I buy every year. This year's poster, as my friend Rincey agreed, is MUCH better than last year's. Take a look:

Watch the Oscar ceremony Sunday, February 22, 2009.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Countdown to the Oscars®: 37 Days

With 37 days left until the 81st Annual Academy Awards®, here are some bullet points to start your weekend off on the right note:
  • launched this afternoon, much to my excitement. While there is nothing really on the site right now but an intro video, much more content will be posted when...
  • Nominations are announced this Thursday, Jan. 22 at 5:35 a.m. PST (note the time zone and adjust accordingly) from the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater most likely by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis and an Oscar winner (such as Kathy Bates last year). Normally, the Academy would announce in advance who will reveal the nominations, but it could just surprise us - in keeping with this year's hush-hush atmosphere in not announcing ceremony presenters.
  • The British Academy Film Awards nominations were announced Thursday morning in London. Best Film nominees: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader" and "Slumdog Millionaire." We'll see how this compares to the Oscar nominees next week.
  • I'm trying to see "Slumdog Millionaire" this weekend. I've heard so many good things about it. Let me know what you think, by posting your thoughts.
Have a great weekend.

UPDATE: Academy President Sid Ganis and Oscar-winning actor and Academy member Forest Whitaker will announce nominations Thursday, the Academy announced Tuesday.

The duo will unveil the nominations in 10 of the 24 award categories. Nominations info for all categories can be found after the announcement at

In 2006 Whitaker took home the Leading Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.”